Kaslo’s big-picture plans need more hands, Village staff say

·2 min read

The Village of Kaslo has an “urgent need” for more staff if the local government is going to meet its ambitious five-year plan, say officials at city hall.

The plea for more bodies at the village office was made at the end of a planning document presented to council at a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this month.

The 2021-25 Corporate Plan outlines the strategic priorities for the Village and community, and the updated version builds on plans that were first outlined in 2015.

As is common with such documents, it lists both general goals and specific targets around areas of interest, including the economy, arts and culture, community health, planning and capital projects. Items can be as specific as installing new public toilets in a park to more general, like reviewing housing needs or the need to repeal obsolete bylaws.

Within the general corporate strategies, council develops and manages specific programs on a yearly basis. And, staff note in the report, it’s a big job.

“There are a total of 61 priorities listed in the ‘Corporate Strategic Priorities Grid’ covering all of the areas of focus – a daunting number for a Village with a small staff and resources,” it says. “But we fulfilled 27 of these priorities and continue to work on the rest of them with a multi-year outlook.”

Staff capacity, training and succession will be a significant challenge, as “the job of running the Village does not get any easier,” the report states.

The staff make a direct pitch for more help at city hall. They note the Village currently has grant applications or involvement in projects totaling over $17 million in value, which require an estimated 3,400 hours of management time to administer and execute… “on top of the normal day-to-day management activities,” says the planning document.

“This situation underscores the urgent need for additional management capacity at the Village Office,” the report says. “A critical strategic planning outcome will be for staff and Council to determine how this gap can be filled without being burdensome to the local tax base.”

The planning document also points out the fragile economic status of the local government, and urges caution.

“The Village of Kaslo continues to be reliant on grant funding to remain sustainable due to the limited local tax base,” it notes. “Although grant funding has been generous recently, particularly with the $480,000 in COVID Rapid Response funding we received, we must be cautious of what lies ahead and how the money is spent.”

The report was received as information, and was to be brought to the next council meeting January 26 for further discussion.

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice